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EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Supreme court blocks OSHA vaccine mandate

By Mike O’Brien In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued its opinion blocking OSHA’s vaccine mandate for employers with 100 or more employees. The majority ruled on Jan. 13 that OSHA had exceeded its authority when it issued the vaccine mandate, concluding that OSHA has authority only “to set workplace safety standards, not broad public health measures.” The court found that COVID presents a “universal risk” not limited to the workplace that is “no different from day-to-day dangers that all face from crime, air pollution, or any number of communicable diseases. Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life—simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock—would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.” Note: This decision addresses only the stay decisions… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

Are religious exemptions a way out for employees or a tricky challenge for employers?

By Lynne Curry Question: If I’m to believe the stack of religious exemptions on my desk, a miracle unfolded in our company last week. Within days of announcing our mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, 90 percent of our unvaccinated employees found religion. I’m holding a dozen exemption requests that use an identical phrase, “This mandate directly affects my religious beliefs. The Bible tells me my body is a temple.” I suspect the few unvaccinated employees who haven’t yet claimed a religious exemption didn’t see what one of our employees helpfully posted next to the breakroom coffeepot. It says employees can refuse vaccinations because vaccines interfere with divine providence. What can we do? My HR officer and I understand we’re obligated to “reasonably accommodate” sincerely held religious beliefs. Except—if we accommodate these… . . . read more

MANAGING STAFF

Will employees resign rather than get vaccinated?

By Lynne Curry Many anti-vax employees threaten to quit when their employers announce they’re considering a vaccination mandate. This shakes the confidence of employers considering vaccination mandates. What’s the truth? Many employees remain vaccine skeptics; more than a third of U.S. adults remain unvaccinated. But do they quit if told their job depends on it? It depends on the industry and it’s fewer than you think. You’ll find employees who refuse vaccines for a variety of heartfelt reasons. Some don’t want to have anyone mandate a personal health decision. Others have heard stories about individuals who’ve experienced vaccine complications, overlooking that many have died, become gravely ill, or continue experiencing long-term complications from COVID-19 because the disease caught them before they became vaccinated. Many hospital workers can tell real-life stories… . . . read more


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